Ski Utah is a non-profit trade organization founded in 1975 with the aim of promoting Utah’s snowsports industry. To promote this, Ski Utah has been running the Interconnect Tour for over the last twenty years, enabling the adventurous skier to “ski” theses six resorts in one day. In mid-March, 2023, my son and I flew into Salt Lake City and we were able to check this tour off our bucket list.
The tour starts in Deer Valley (or as I like to call it, Beaver Creek West). Our group of nine skiers met at the lodge for intros and a short backcountry skiing lesson from our two Ski Utah guides (Calvin and Hobbes). Our Guides also provided our avalanche beacons, which we tested and strapped on. Most importantly, we were given the Ski Utah Gold Pass. The Gold Pass, aka the “Willy Wonka” ticket, enables the bearer to ski any resort in Utah. Unfortunately, we had to turn them in at the end of the day.
The tour requires all skiers to be advanced skiers, in that they should be able to handle all reasonable snow conditions and be in good enough shape to handle skiing bell-to-bell with some hiking, traversing and backcountry thrown in. Also, this is only available to skiers (no snowboarders), as Deer Valley and Alta still think it is 1995 (just kidding!). Our group ranged in age from 16 to 60, but right from the start, it was clear everyone in our group could rip!
We started with some warmup runs at Deer Valley so our guides could assess our skills. Then it was time to duck the rope and head out of bounds. This first “backcountry” was a short 500-yard pitch through some powder-filled trees and on to the Park City Mountain Resort next door.
At Park City, we made a run or two off the higher lifts on the Park City side vice the Canyons side. Then the skis came off and we boot-hiked up a ridgeline to get ready for our longest backcountry run of the day into Big Cottonwood Canyon.
We again ducked a rope and plunged into the trees. The trees provided deep powder stashes leading to a wide meadow. Utah has seen an insane amount of snow this winter but unfortunately, the last storm was already a week prior to our visit. The day we skied, the freeze-thaw cycle had made the snow outside of the trees a bit crunchy. To avoid the crunchy snow, we skied a cat track that became a road with huge ten-foot snowbanks on each side. We followed that down to our third resort of the day, Solitude.
At Solitude, we took a 15-minute coffee break in the village, then headed back out to the lifts. We rode a few lifts, a few connector trails, then dropped down a bowl and into Brighton Resort for ski resort number four. In hindsight, we kind of short-changed Brighton as we skied down to the base, then rode a lift back up to the other side of the same bowl we had just skied. This time we went the other way across and back into Solitude. I have skied Brighton before, so I did not mind too much that we just barely sampled its offerings, and we had places to go!
Back at Solitude, we made a few top-to-bottom power runs in order to position ourselves for the biggest backcountry traverse of the day: the Highway to Heaven traverse. This is the only exposed run of the day and we all double-checked our beacons before again ducking the rope. Due to possible slide danger, we spaced out and avoided getting bunched up on the traverse. It was a very, very, very, long slide step. It took a lot of effort and concentration to stay in the path.
My son and I normally ski without poles, but we were “forced” to bring poles for this very crossing. It was worth dragging the sticks along all day to aid in getting across this traverse. However, after some effort, we all made it safely across and into Alta. Resort number five of the day!
I have never skied Alta. I was very surprised by the amazing terrain (bigger than expected) and also the amazing runs. To my further amazement, I counted only a handful of grumpy old men! We dropped into the Grizzly Gulch area and made our way down to the Albion Base. Then we rode a few lifts to get to the Sugarloaf Pass area to get a tease of our sixth ski area, Snowbird. However, as it was lunchtime, we instead made a run down to the Angle Station and the Collins Grill. The food was great and included in the tour, but if I did the tour again, I might have skipped lunch to get in a few more runs at Alta.
After lunch, we made a run to the base area and rode back up the lifts to the Sugarloaf Pass and across the gate into Snowbird for our final ski area of the day. At Snowbird, we dropped into the Mineral Basin and rode the lift to the Hidden Peak tram station. Our group was interested in skiing some steep stuff, so we all dropped over a serious jump and on to Great Scott.
We had been skiing as a group all day, but somehow at this point, I got separated. I ended up bombing down to the tram as the group was picking their way down the steeper stuff. By the time they got down, most of the group had had enough for the day. It was 3:45 p.m. and lifts closed in fifteen minutes. Most of the group was talking about getting some post ski beers for the van ride back to Deer Valley. My son and I had other thoughts. We still had 15 minutes on the clock. We could still ski! Our guides reluctantly let us go and we literately ran away!
We thought about taking the iconic tram, but the line was too long, so we jumped on the Peruvian lift. When we got off the lift, we were disappointed to see the Peruvian tunnel closed. The tunnel links the Mineral Basin with the front side of the mountain. It would have been cool to “ski” though a mountain; maybe next time. Running out of time, we opted for a top-to-bottom speed run down to the base area. We made it back to the van without issue.
At the end of the day, we had skied over twenty miles and over 20,000 feet of vertical. The numbers are not crazy, as we had just skied over 30,000 feet the day before at Snowbasin. Overall, we both wished the tour had a little less “touring” and more skiing, but it is a “tour.” The Interconnect Tour is very doable for any advanced skier willing to go the distance. For me it was a bucket list item that I always wanted to do and I was happy to check it off my list!
Robbie Allen is an avid small hill skier. He has written several articles on the many small hills he has sought out.
Robbie, very cool that you could do this with your son. I've never tried the interconnect. Having visited all the resorts both in winter and in summer your report helps me to imagine how they would all fit together on skis. There is a distant dream out here that they'd all be lift connected someday. If folks could start at PC or DV and ski over to the Cottonwoods it could possibly take a lot of traffic off the busy access roads in those canyons. The map from Ski Utah early in your report makes it look like the big slog would be from PC to Soli, but you confirm that it's from Soli to Alta? Another thought I had was that in this huge Utah snow year I'm surprised they were still allowing folks to try this. You were lucky to attempt it when you did because a couple weeks later the avi danger was off the charts out here for an extended period!
PC to Soli was the longest, but it was all downhill. Some woods, a bowl, then a long trail that fed into the road with the high snow banks. Soli to Alta was the exposed traverse. From there it was a short pitch into that side of Alta.
Agreed I was bummed it was not a power day, but with the winter you all have had out there we were lucky to get it in at all. I am sure that the tour has not run in the last few weeks!
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